Extra-sized Buy or Sell this week as Joel, RahimAli and I tackle six topics. These topics range from a tight race in the AFC West, to a top-ranked college basketball team. From the NFL’s top defensive teams, to the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. Finally, two East coast times vying for the postseason in their respective leagues.
Cullen: The Kansas City Chiefs will win the AFC West
Joel: I buy the Chiefs winning the AFC West.
They already have a one game lead on the Chargers in the division. One game could easily be overcome by the Chargers, but looking at the schedules for both teams, I believe the Chiefs will beat out the Chargers. Both teams have one game they should easily win. For the Chiefs, that game is against the Raiders to end the season. For the Chargers, that game is this week against the Bengals.
While they both have those games, the other three games for both teams won’t be easy. The Chiefs still have to play the No. 1 ranked defense of the Ravens, followed by the Chargers. Then they play the Seahawks, who are a tough team fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC. The Chargers’ other three games are against the Chiefs, the No. 1 ranked defense of the Ravens and then against the Broncos to finish the season. Why is that game significant? The Broncos recently beat the Chargers.
Despite losing Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs will be fine offensively. They didn’t build the No. 1 scoring offense through Hunt. Patrick Mahomes II isn’t an MVP candidate because of Hunt. His loss may set them back slightly, but not so much that they won’t be an explosive offense. Despite the defense of the Chiefs being average at best, we haven’t really seen a bad offensive output from the Chiefs.
We haven’t really seen a bad offensive output from the Chargers either, but they have been more inconsistent offensively. They were lucky to get a win against the Steelers, especially after their first score shouldn’t have counted because of a false start penalty that wasn’t called. I just feel like the Chargers are more likely to lose another game than the Chiefs, if not more than one to end the season.
RahimAli: I guess it’s okay to still want to buy the Chiefs winning the AFC West! I mean, the success of the Chiefs this season doesn’t have anything to do with how they play with or without RB Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs have definitely surprised us all by the way they have played this season after the transformation from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes. He has been an MVP candidate since week one!
And we have seen the Chiefs atop the NFL all season long. For them to finish the season as AFC West Champions is ideal. I agree with Joel when we talk about the remaining games for the Chiefs and the fact that they have a one-game lead over their division rival, Los Angeles Chargers. I honestly think the division will come down to the final week of the season. Both teams should win this week, but Chargers could beat the Chiefs during their Week 15 matchup and tie everything up in the division. With a strong finish to the season, the Chiefs will finish the season 12-4, while the Chargers finish 11-5.
RahimAli: Despite falling short in last year’s National Championship game, the Michigan Wolverines will rebound to win it all this year
Joel: I’m going to sell on the Wolverines winning it all this year. One reason to believe Michigan will win it all this year is because of their defense. To this point in the season, the Wolverines have the No. 2 defense in all of college basketball, allowing an average of just 52.7 points per game. Their defense can take them far.
However, their offense currently ranks tied for 238th, averaging 71.9 points per game. When compared to their defense, their offense scores more than enough points to out do how many points they give up, but I feel like the eventual champions will be a team who is more consistent on both sides of the ball.
Am I talking about a specific team in particular? No. Looking at last year’s champions, Villanova, they led the nation in points per game. Then there’s a team like Virginia, who led the league in points allowed per game last season. They ended up losing in the first round of the tournament, becoming the only No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed. Plus, there’s the factor of never knowing what can happen during March Madness. I’m not sure who I’d choose if I had to pick one team, but I don’t think it’d be Michigan.
Cullen: Look, for me, it’s way too early to start talking about who is going to win a 68-team tournament that doesn’t even begin for another three months. Michigan may very well win it all, but right now, in early December, I’m going to take the field. Even within the Big Ten, I’m not so sure Michigan makes it out with the conference championship.
Like every year, it’s a loaded conference, currently with seven teams in the Top 25. Right now, Michigan is ranked highest at no. 5, but I’d be loathe to count out Michigan State (no. 10), Wisconsin (no. 12), Iowa (no. 18), Ohio State (no. 19) and Maryland (no. 23) so early. (I will, however, go ahead and count out no. 24 Nebraska.) And so I sell the Wolverines winning it at all.
Joel: At least one of the NFL’s top four defensive teams in points allowed (Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Chicago Bears) will lead their team to the Super Bowl
Cullen: I’m selling on any of these top-defensive teams making the Super Bowl.
However, if one of them does it, I’d bet on the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson is an incredible quarterback, and he’s got tremendous weapons in wide receivers Deandre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas. he ground game is solid with Lamar Miller and D’Onta Freeman back from injury. As stated in the question, the defense is stout. Bill O’Brien incredibly turned this team around after that 0-3 start. I’m not expecting them to win the rest of their games this season, but between them, Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago, I’ll lean toward the team with not only an experienced head coach, but also the one with a potent offense to match its solid defense.
RahimAli: I sell the Ravens, Cowboys and Bears defense’s leading their team to the Super Bowl!
I don’t believe the Ravens will even make the playoffs this year. I mean, it is going to be tough. With them currently at 7-5, they hold the sixth spot in the AFC playoff picture. They still have games against the Chiefs and Chargers, who are two explosive offenses that average well above the 17.8 points allowed the Ravens give up.
For the Cowboys, it’s also about getting back to the playoffs first. I don’t think they’ll win the division. Sorry, Joel, I’m still believing in the Eagles over your Cowboys! I don’t think the Eagles will be back into the Super Bowl either, but instead the Seahawks, Saints or Rams.
The Bears trading for Khalil Mack has pretty much turned their whole game plan around. I want to see how this week plays out for the Bears defensively against the Los Angeles Rams, who are one of the top offenses in the league. The Rams and Saints join the Chiefs and Steelers as teams that have explosive offenses who could light up any defense, no matter how many points allowed they have on the season.
However, I would buy on the Houston Texans’ defense leading their team to the Super Bowl. Their playoff run will be what proves them worthy of their spot in the Super Bowl. Realistically, I don’t think Texans have a good chance because of the road that faces them, but it would be nice to see a fresh team in the Super Bowl besides the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers like we have see over the last 16 years. If it wasn’t them, then it was whatever team former QB Peyton Manning was the sheriff of (Denver or Indianapolis).
Cullen: After acquiring Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz from the Mariners, the Mets will make the playoffs in 2019
Joel: I’m going to sell on the Mets making the playoffs next season. I think the additions of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz make them better, but I’m not sure it makes them a playoff team. Last season’s playoff teams in the National League were the Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers and Rockies. I think we can expect the Braves, Brewers, Cubs and Dodgers to be there again next year. Maybe even the Rockies, too.
The Mets were also worse than five other teams who didn’t make the playoffs. Those teams were the Nationals, Phillies, Cardinals, Pirates and Diamondbacks. I can see the Mets being better than some of those teams, but then they still have to be better than the teams who made the playoffs last year. At least one of them anyway. I think this trade was a good move for the Mets, but my first reaction tells me it doesn’t put them into the playoffs in 2019.
RahimAli: I sell the Mets making the playoffs in 2019! I honestly don’t have any faith in the Mets. I agree with Joel that the additions make the Mets better, but they need more than just a closer and aging second baseman. There are just too many teams in the National league who are better than the Mets. I don’t see them making it into the top three of their division behind the Braves, Phillies and maybe the Nationals if they can figure out what exactly they are going to with or without Bryce Harper.
But you also have to think about all the other teams who were in the mix for a wild card spot. I don’t see the Cubs or Dodgers falling down. The Brewers and Rockies could very well be in the wild card picture again, but the Cardinals, Pirates and Diamondbacks will also be there. An improvement for the Mets will happen, but no way they will be making the playoffs in 2019.
RahimAli: With his recent performances, Denver Broncos’ RB Phillip Lindsay has emerged as the NFL’s favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year
Cullen: There’s an excellent case to be made for Lindsay. He’s on course to surpass Dominic Rhodes for the most rushing yards by an undrafted rookie. He also has the Broncos back in the thick of the playoff hunt, quite possibly saving their coach’s job.
How much does one take those factors into consideration? Because on the other side of the coin is Saquon Barkley, drafted very high by a bad team that still isn’t very good. The Giants are not in the playoff hunt. Barkley’s production was expected of him, while Lindsay’s is a very pleasant surprise.
Overall, I’m looking at more the rushing yards and ignoring where each player was drafted and how his respective team is doing. The overall numbers point to Barkley being more productive. He has a slight edge in rushing yards (though Lindsay’s average per rush is much higher), and they both have the same amount of rushing touchdowns with eight.
What separates Barkley as the better running back, and better player, is receiving yards. He’s a dangerous receiving threat, having caught 74 passes for 602 yards and four touchdowns. Lindsay, on the other hand, only has 25 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown.
Lindsay’s story is one of the NFL’s best this season: undrafted rookie goes back home and stars for his team. But Barkley is the better rookie. So I’m selling on Lindsay as the favorite for offensive rookie of the year.
Joel: I like Phillip Lindsay as one of the top rookie running backs this season, but I’m going to have to sell on him being a favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. As Cullen stated, the overall numbers are likely what’s going to determine the winner of this award. Saquon Barkley has been the favorite for the award all season long and will probably take the award home.
Barkley has 954 rushing yards and 602 receiving yards. That gives him a total of 1,556 total yards, plus his 12 total TDs. Lindsay has 937 rushing yards and 189 receiving yards, for a total of 1,126 yards. He also has nine total TDs. Barkley’s numbers are slightly higher, which I think gives him the edge.
The receiving yards really separate the two. I think the ability to consistently put up big receiving numbers makes Barkley the more dynamic player. Not taking anything away from Lindsay, because he’s been great, but Barkley will most likely win this award because of his ability as a pass catcher.
Joel: Currently sitting at 12-13 and in the seven spot in the Eastern Conference, the Orlando Magic will make the playoffs this season
Cullen: Initially, I was going to sell on the Orlando Magic making the postseason. Like with my college basketball answer, it’s still way to early to tell who’s for real in the NBA, especially between the teams grouped at the bottom of each conference.
Then again, upon further review of the teams below the Magic, I’m not sure who, exactly, is a real threat.
Washington? They seem to be in a real state of discord and might be trying to trade John Wall, but his contract is so team-adverse I’m not sure who would take it on. But the Wizards clearly have some unhappy players and I don’t know what will get them back on track. Firing Scott Brooks probably wouldn’t work (though it may still happen).
That leaves…Miami? Between the Magic and Heat, I’ll take the Magic, so I’m buying the Magic earning that playoff spot.
RahimAli: I will also buy the Magic will make the playoffs as the eight seed. If you haven’t been keeping up with the NBA standings in the Eastern Conference, then you should be, because the Orlando Magic are currently in the playoff picture!
Yes, it is still too early to actually tell whether or not they will stay there, but I do believe they can. When you look at how the season has gone so far, you’ll see that there will be four teams fighting for the spots in the Eastern Conferenceplayoffs. One of those teams will be the Magic. The others will be the Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat. All of which should be in the race late, but each of those teams have issues within the team that will be holding them back.
For the Hornets, it’s the depth of their guards that has caused more minutes for PG Kemba Walker. The Wizards are just all over the place. Like Cullen said, they are clearly unhappy! I mean, they have tried the John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt for so long and it still hasn’t gotten them past the second round of the playoffs.
Then there’s Miami. A team that has gone through much adversity of the years with their championship runs, to the departure of Dwayne Wade and then his return and now his retirement. I believe that out of those four teams, the Magic are more put together and ready to make it to the next level, which is the playoffs. I don’t expect them to do much in the playoffs, but just getting there as an eight or even seven seed is a huge success for them this season.
What does everyone else think?
- Can the Chiefs hold off the Chargers?
- Will Michigan hold up throughout the tournament?
- Will a top-defensive unit in the NFL lead its team to the Super Bowl?
- Have the Mets turned themselves into contenders?
- Is Phillip Lindsay worthy of the Offensive Rookie of the Year?
- Can the Orlando Magic keep it up and make the playoffs?
Let us know what you think in the comments!